Jason Bay is officially a Met. He passed his physical, had his press conference and is now the new left fielder for the Amazin’s. He’ll essentially replace Carlos Delgado in the middle of the order (or will he? Please tell me Delgado will not be back; he needs to make his “clubhouse presence” present in another clubhouse). The Mets need all the infusion of new blood they can get – in the clubhouse and on the field. And they need a home run hitter in the middle of the order, and Bay hits home runs. So what’s not to like?
It took awhile to finally dot the i’s and cross the t’s, but Omar Minaya waited out Bay’s nonexistent bidding war and the “mystery” teams that were never really out there and signed the outfielder to a pretty reasonable contract. Boston was the only team that had an offer on the table, so Minaya had to better that one, but he didn’t blow it out of the water and didn’t end up bidding against himself. All things considered, the final numbers on the contract are sensible for a proven cleanup hitter: an $8.5 million signing bonus, $6.5 in 2010, $16 million a year for the following three seasons, and a fifth-year option for $17 million, which kicks in with 600 plate appearances in 2013 or 500 plate appearances in both 2012 and 2013. There’s also a buyout option for $3 million after the guaranteed fourth year. If Bay qualifies for that fifth year, that just means he was healthy and stayed on the field, and was most likely productive. He’ll be 31 through 34 years old for the four guaranteed years of his contract, and 35 for that fifth year. Considering he got a somewhat late start to his major league career, he should be right in his prime during the years he’s under contract with the Mets.
Is Matt Holliday a better all around player? Probably. And would the Mets have been better off with his more outgoing, fiery personality? Possibly. But the Mets would have had to go into an extensive and expensive bidding war with the Cardinals. As it is, Holliday will probably make $30 or $40 million more signing with St. Louis, and that’s without another team besides the Cards getting involved. Bay’s already dealt with the Boston media, which is no picnic, and had to deal with replacing Manny Ramirez. For the Mets, he doesn’t have to be “the man” or the face of the franchise; he just has to fit in and produce, and not say anything stupid, which he most likely won’t. He’s liked by all his former teammates and by all accounts is a good guy and a gamer. He gives the Mets three high OBP/power guys in the middle of the lineup (assuming David Wright hits more than 10 home runs a year going forward).
The Mets aren’t locked into some seven or eight year contract, they’re dealing with a solid citizen who’s produced in a pitcher’s park (in Pittsburgh) and in the spotlight of the East Coast media (in Boston), the money isn’t all that outrageous in this day and age and Bay has refuted Peter Gammons’ statement that he’d rather be in Beirut than Queens – “That couldn’t be further from the truth,” he said, “I wouldn’t have signed the contract if I didn’t want to be here.” (I think his no-trade clause specifically mentions Beirut.) So here’s at least one day when something went right for the Mets. Now they just need three or four more starting pitchers and a catcher and a . . .